Published On: Wed, Sep 8th, 2010
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A Ride to Remember

By PEGGY HILL

Twelve motorcyclists left the Cherokee Indian Fairgrounds on the morning of Monday, Aug. 30 beginning the first annual Remembrance Removal Tour for the Brothers in the Wind .  Pastor Jack Russell, a member of the Cherokee Nation and pastor of the Living Waters Lutheran Church, asked Creator for His protection and guidance of the riders during the 963 mile ride to Tahlequah, Okla.  

The ride, led by Ned Stamper, was coordinated by Perry White from Franklin.  Riders from Cherokee included: Darrell Teesateskie, James Armachain, Will Harris, Roland Crowe, Sylvester Crowe, Eddy Ensley, Richard Wiggins, and Calvin Hill.  Vice Chairman B. Ensley and Chad Carver rode the first leg of the ride.  Support vehicles carried Jonah and Jodi Taylor, Loretta Crowe, Peggy Hill, Pastor Jack and family, and Furman Smith and family, all from Cherokee.  Another rider from Alabama joined the group in Savannah, Tenn.

The stage for the long three-day ride was set at the Cherokee Memorial Park at Blythe Ferry northeast of Chattanooga .  The staff at the memorial served the group lunch and gave a lecture  about the history of the memorial and the area.  It was here that 9,000 Cherokees and 500 Creeks and 127 slaves were encamped prior to the crossing of the Tennessee River on their forced removal.  The last detachment left Blythe Ferry on Nov. 13, 1938.  A granite history wall which tells of significant events of the Cherokee is erected on the plaza. 

The riders followed the Bell Route through Tennessee into Oklahoma.  Here, Ensley and Carver left the group to return to Cherokee.  Unfortunately, Ensley had an accident on the way home receiving a major shake-up, bruising, and a broken arm.

Leaving Bythe Ferry about 1 p.m., the group moved across the bridge over the Tennessee River.  This was a memorial moment as riders in the support vehicles watched the bikers ride across the river.   At that particular moment the cyclists with their Cherokee Nation flags whipping in the wind, were indeed, Brothers in the Wind, crossing the river as the spirits of Cherokees gone before must have looked on knowing that they were not forgotten, that their suffering and their strength was being remembered and relived 127 years later by these riders.  And, knew they would always be remembered in the years to come as other brothers would make this journey  and would tell their story of strength and survival to children and grandchildren.

The riders presented an awesome picture as they rode through the hills and valleys of Tennessee, the Mississippi delta, cross the great Mississippi River, then back into the hills of Arkansas and then into the Oklahoma hills.  Rain finally overtook them as they neared Oklahoma, and some of the Cherokee riders choose to leave off their rain gear, remembering the harsh elements that the walkers endured on their journey.  By the time the twelve riders arrived at the Cherokee Restaurant in Tahlequah at 1:23 p.m. on Sept. 1, they were soaked and cold, but thrilled to have completed the ride, and thankful that it had gone well.

EBCI members enjoyed their visit to the United Keetoowah Complex, as well as other Cherokee Holiday activities, ending with participation in the National Parade. 

Following Miss Cherokee Rachel Hicks in the parade, the riders were honored and humbled by the rousing reception given them by parade watchers, and the biker and riders in the support vehicle, flying their Nation’s flag, rode proudly as members of  the Eastern Band of Cherokee .

Brothers in the Wind have returned safely from their first Remembrance Removal Tour and will begin planning and fundraising for their second annual ride in 2011.  They all extend their thanks for the support and prayers of their families and friends, and especially to Pastor Jack Russell for his presence and prayers on this 1st Memorial Ride and Furman Smith for being there with tools and trailer in case of needed bike repair.

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